Daimler to invest $1 bln in Alabama plant, create over 600 jobs

Andrew Cummings
September 22, 2017

The German automaker will build its fifth battery plant globally and create more than 600 jobs in the region, the company said Thursday in a statement.

Daimler, Mercedes-Benz's parent company, will invest $1 billion in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant in order to prepare it for the German automaker's first electric SUV, which should begin production in the early 2020s.

The battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of the very latest technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the US, the company said in the announcement, which coincided with the ceremonies, marking the 20 anniversary of Mercedes-Benz production in Tuscaloosa.

"We're celebrating our 20th anniversary at our production facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and we're taking this as an opportunity to expand the operation and further fuel growth", production chief Markus Schaefer told Bloomberg.

Tesla poses a unique threat to Mercedes, and other German luxury vehicle manufacturers. Last year, the plant produced more than 310,000 Mercedes vehicles, including mid- and large-size SUVs as well as entry-level C-Class sedans.

In addition to the electric initiative, the logistics activities in the USA will be expanded with a new Global Logistics Center and a new after-sales North American hub, exporting car-kits to global assembly plants and spare parts from the US and North America to worldwide markets.

The shift is proving costly.

"Our global network is ready for the era of electric vehicles".

As part of a 10 billion-euro green-car rollout, Mercedes unveiled an electric hatchback this month at the Frankfurt auto show. The expansion will add capacity at the plant to produce future electric SUVs, including the production of the batteries that will power them. Daimler's Smart city-car brand will gradually stop offering models with combustion engines as of 2020. The factory has since emerged as one of the brand's main manufacturing hubs worldwide, with some 70% of assembled vehicles slated for export to global markets.

Prior to the additional EQ model line, the Tuscaloosa facility now produces all GLS, GLE, and GLE Coupe SUVs for the global market, as well as the USA market's C-Class sedan.

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